After nearly four years of war Iâ€™d wager that a few million Americans have held a candle at a vigil, carried a sign at a rally, passed out a flyer, forwarded an email to friends, or gone to a demonstration in a distant city. If you, Dear Reader, are one of these stout souls, this letter is to you.
But first, may I ask a favor? For the rest of this letter please forget that at least once during these years of protest you no doubt mourned that â€œonly the choirâ€ participated. The choir â€“ people who actually do something for peace â€“ is precisely who Iâ€™m writing to.
No doubt itâ€™s frustrating that, except for a few grand occasions, â€œonly the choirâ€ shows up. But consider this: of the millions of women in the
In their day they were â€œthe choir.â€ When they were the only ones who showed up for vigils and rallies, they no doubt bemoaned that â€œonly the choirâ€ had come again. They came to action after action, moving things forward imperceptibly each time. But when conditions were right, they acted one more time. And then they made history.
Several indicators confirm that conditions are right again.
- The November elections clearly proved the public wants to end the war. That sentiment will surely grow in the months ahead.
- This spring, likely in March, Congress will vote whether to continue the war with another $160,000,000,000 â€œsupplemental appropriation.â€
- This February, the peace movementâ€™s choir, of which you are one, will up the ante of protest. Voices for Creative Nonviolence, joined by Veterans For Peace, have initiated the â€œOccupation Projectâ€ to occupy the hometown offices of Representatives and Senators who have voted money for the war.
- If we miss this opportunity to greatly hasten peace, the war will still eventually end. â€œEventually,â€ however, will be measured in additional thousands of lives lost, even more thousands suffering horrific injuries, and the world becoming more dangerous.
- All this clearly adds up to a historic opportunity.
You have already done something for peace. Now will you consider taking a giant step that will mean so much more?
Last week I spoke in
We talked about practical concerns: having to work, how much will it cost, what will the charge be? We talked about taking a vacation day and the modest fines involved for a misdemeanor â€“ all compared to the enormous suffering Iraqis and soldiers now endure in this war.
We could have talked about how much less frightening this is compared to the suffragists who were arrested, manhandled, and force-fed while they served long jail terms; how unionists struck in the face of company goon squads; how civil rights activists tolerated untold abuses from screaming racists â€“ and still they carried on. They persevered. They stepped into the gap when they were needed most. They won justice and made history.
The Democratic Party now controls Congress because the grassroots peace movement turned public opinion against the Bush administrationâ€™s war. These new elected officials must see that the time to end this war is now.
Many incumbents, including my own Congressperson, talk for peace â€“ even join the â€œOut of Iraqâ€ Congressional Caucus â€“ but vote for war. They must now be told in no uncertain terms the jig is up. We will no longer tolerate platitudes for peace and votes for blood. This is where we draw the line. They either vote to end the occupation of
Below are links to roll calls for votes that Rep. Dennis Kucinich listed as the record of war funding. Check and see how you elected officials voted. A very few voted against each appropriation, and a call to their office will confirm if they will continue voting against the war. Several others have voted against one or two appropriations but in favor of the rest. These members, and those who consistently vote money for this war, are our targets.
We will go to their offices with a pledge for them to sign, confirming they will not vote for any more death and suffering in this war. If they do not sign, they will be occupied. A considerably more benign occupation than they are imposing, but uncomfortable for them nonetheless.
See how your Representatives and Senators have voted. Talk with other members of the choir where you live. Get ready to sing a glorious song to end this war!
Ferner is a freelance writer from
Roll Calls for Key Congressional Votes on
House Joint Resolution 114 Authorizing Use of Military Force Against
Final House Vote October 10, 2002: 296-133 http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=h2002-455
Final Senate Vote October 10, 2002: 77-23 http://www.govtrack.us/congress/vote.xpd?vote=s2002-237
House Joint Resolution 2
Final House Vote Feb. 13, 2003: 338-83 http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2003/roll032.xml
Final Senate Vote: Feb. 13, 2003: 76-20 http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=108&session=1&vote=00034
Final House and Senate Vote April 12, 2003: (both voice votes) http://www.congress.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:HR01559:@@@R
Final House Vote October 31, 2003: 298-121 http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2003/roll601.xml
Final Senate Vote November 3, 2003: voice vote http://www.congress.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:HR03289:@@@R
Final House Vote July 22, 2004: 410-12 http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2004/roll418.xml
Final Senate Vote July 22, 2004: 96-0 http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=108&session=2&vote=00163
Final House Vote May 5, 2005: 368-58 http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll161.xml
Final Senate Vote May 10, 2005: 100-0 http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=1&vote=00117
Final House Vote December 19, 2005: 308-106 http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll669.xml
Final Senate Vote December 21, 2005: 93-0 http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=1&vote=00366
Final House Vote June 13, 2006: 351-67 http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2006/roll257.xml
Final Senate Vote June 15, 2006: 98-1 http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=2&vote=00171
Final House Vote September 26, 2006: 394-22 http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2006/roll486.xml
Final Senate Vote September 29, 2006: 100-0 http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=2&vote=00261
© 2006 by Mike Ferner
© 2006 by Mike Ferner